Cisco SFS 3504


Last morning I had to get up extremely early in my terms – actually that is 8 am, but for someone who worked late shift for the last 7 years it feels like going to work at 3am. Anyway, this gave me a chance to bid on that 8:30 oddball auction and I got this Cisco SFS 3504 allright! A 12-port infiniband switch with 6 gigabit ethernet “downlinks”, incredible 240Gbps switching bandwidth for EUR 35.
It’s a precedessor of the current Nexus-series and got EOL’d in 2008 just one year after its 2007 introduction. This happened along with all other infiniband products by Cisco cleary in a move to unite all datacenter type offerings around the Nexus switches, intending to completely wipe away the infiniband market with datacenter ethernet.
While I wish Cisco all the best on this move and think the idea of reliable Ethernet is thrilling, I certainly couldn’t care less now.
Used twoport Infiniband HCAs run about $40 in the US, and putting the Buzz aside there is a simple fact: 20gbps for approx $45/port is a bit more intriguing than looking at 10gpbs with $600 per HBA and insanely expensive 10GE switches; especially since RMDA support and such are completely new concepts to the ethernet world.

If only I could get my hands on one of the fibrechannel options.

Random picture courtesy of Cisco Systems:
SFS 3504

I will so much hug it once it’s here!

A few facts from what I learned so far:

  • 240Gbps Backplane
  • Infiniband addressing server (or whatever you call it)
  • 4-port fibrechannel modules
  • VSAN support, but only if feeded by an adjacent MDS Series switch, much like my SN5428-2-K9 only knew how to import zoning databases but couldn’t manage them
  • 6 Port Gigabit Ethernet downlink modules, max 32VLANs per Trunk
  • No normal IOS switching, extremely limited feature set, a few “odd” commands – see next
  • quite ridiculous or specialized HA features, depending on your point of view
  • seems deliberately limited in features
  • one specialized task: a gateway from fibrechannel and GigE to Infiniband at the data rates needed for HPC computing
  • the switching engine sits on the Infiniband module
  • A slot blind costs approx $1000
  • The OS version (2.10.0) makes ikt hard to guess the OS flavor, right now i suspect they reused some old SanOS code
  • this picture quite nicely shows the intended usage:
    sfs 3504 gateway functions

    Cisco SFS 3504 product overview with some good insight about intended usage.
    EOL and EOS announcement after one year of sale
    Cisco SFS 3504 command reference
    Cisco SFS 3504 Software Configuration Guide
    http://198.133.219.25/en/US/docs/server_nw_virtual/3504/installation/and_configuration/note/3504inc.html#wp60911>>Installation manual?

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